Standing Up for Mel Gibson… and Chris Brown?

Apparently, Mel Gibson isn’t the only one who feels that his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva “f—ing deserved it” when he hit her. Here’s one guys remark on the matter, posted to the MTV website: “Damn, it is going to be a pleasure to finally see oksana in prison. The ***** is a natural for it! If she pays attention, the inmates there will give her, her final training in how to be an effective porn star. Ah just luvly, the world is unfolding as it should, obviously!”

Written for shock value? Wouldn’t surprise me. But the comment reminded me that now and again a student of mine will defend a batterer when we discuss domestic violence in the Psychology of Women course that I teach.

When the subject of Chris Brown was brought up one day, a student I’ll call Ed opined, “Well, Rihanna deserved it.”

I asked what made him think so.

“He told her to get in the car like four times, but she wouldn’t do it.”

To which I responded, “Four times? Oh, now I totally get it.”

“Well, maybe it was five or six times.”

Tapping my forehead with the palm of my hand, I exclaimed, “So Chris Brown beat Rihanna until she was bloody because she wouldn’t get in the car. Oh, now it all makes sense to me. Thanks for explaining!” Sarcasm in the classroom may not be a recommended method, but he did get the point – after a while.

Continuing I asked whether he would beat his dog or his child bloody if either of them refused to get in a car after being asked five times. No?

Turning to the broader context I added, “From what I understand Rihanna had discovered that a young woman had offered herself up for a booty call via text message, so she was pretty upset. Do you think someone would be more upset that their companion wouldn’t get in a car – after being asked five times – or if they learned their lover planned a sexual tryst with someone else later that evening?”

”And, why should Rihanna get in the car just because Chris told her to?”

While most of my students got the point, Ed didn’t until I asked, “What if the situation had been reversed? What if Chris Brown had discovered that Rihanna was expecting loving from someone else that night? How do you think he’d react?”

Another student gave a quick glance before shouting out, “Probably the same way – by beating her.”

Was Ed speaking in jest, like the MTV commenter cited above? Sadly, my sense is that even in this day in age, some young people still feel it makes sense for men to “discipline” women, and that women sometimes deserve to be hit.

Georgia Platts

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on July 21, 2010, in feminism, gender and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. My daughter did volunteer work for battered women who came to a hospital emergency room. She found it completely frustrating that so many wanted to return home. Domestic violence is frustrating on so many levels.

  2. Once upon a time there was the quaint notion that a real man never hit a woman or someone significantly weaker. It was considered cowardly not to adhere to the principle of “pick on someone your own size” and public men who would do such a thing were outcast. Can anyone imagine the ramifications to their careers if it turned out Gary Cooper, Clark Gable or John Wayne had beaten their wives of girlfriends?
    I don’t know what is the truth in the latest Mel Gibson scandal and I also believe in the basic principle of innocent until proven guilty. Furthermore, anyone who would intentionally seek to profit from blackmailing an individual, is also both violating the law and reprehensible. If the tapes are not real, then this is a disgusting scenario of using a person’s celebrity to extort money and noteriety. But if Gibson has actually beaten a woman, there is no justification ever for physical violence (except as a means of self defense) and he should both be legally prosecuted, and shunned by the movie-going audience.

  3. i discussed the chris brown n rihanna incident with my sister in law, and was shocked because she made the same type of comment. i read the tabloid article out loud and we looked at the picture of the badly battered face of rihanna. my sister said ” well, rihanna is stupid, she provoked him”. I didnt know what to say. she had grown up in a home with domestic violence, and broke up fights that would go on in the family. she would act as a mediator when she saw me and her brother fighting. she is a very independent “i stand alone, i dont need a man” type of woman, so for her to say this was kind of awkward. i thought of her as a strong woman, but when she said this, i lost a lot of respect for her

  4. No one should ever place their hands on another person. No one deserves to be hit. Self defense is the only reason one might fight back. What if the roles were reversed? Chris would leave Rihanna. That being said both partners should walk away if they are angry and need to cool off or if they don’t feel the relationship can work. If they do want to work it out than they should. They should calmly and rationally deal with the issues they are faced with. Violence is never the answer. A real man or woman does not hit their partner or anyone for that matter.

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